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Brand Management

The Psychology Of Collectible Brands


The Psychology Of Collectible Brands

Most human beings have a need to collect things, and some of us need to collect things more than others. Psychologists believe that our need to collect fills a need to be in control or even escape unsatisfying lives with an abundance of what interests or fascinates us.

2KnowMyself.com observes, “Some people collect in order to create a bank of good memories that they can get back to whenever things go wrong. If their lives became bitter those people can get instant mood boosts by going back to their collections and recalling the good memories.” These “bank of good memories” and “mood boosts” associated with collections are no doubt the result of dopamine production, a neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s reward and pleasure response and a key factor we’ve acknowledged often as a bonding mechanism for brands.

In the hands of a brand marketer, this need to collect can be the ideal leverage to reinforce a positive brand experience. Brand memorabilia keeps the brand’s consumers tethered to its meaning, even when they’re away, not using the brand or simply occupied elsewhere. These “pieces of the brand” can trigger brand salience and even the collectables themselves can become part of the brand identity.

As we all have experienced, some industries (and the brands that populate those industries) thrive on our need to collect and conserve things and memories. For example, tourist destinations and amusement parks help us create and collect memories through staged photo opportunities that we purchase (a profit center for them to be sure) as well as a collected, documented reminder that we share with others.

In its recent and highly original “Life Elevated” campaign, the state of Utah in the United States encouraged touring the five national parks within its boundaries as if they were a collective experience. Why visit just one spectacular park when you can experience all five in one state? Brilliant!

Of course, collecting is employed often in less dramatic ways than what the Utah state brand did, but it can be just as effective, nonetheless. Consider these examples, many of which are used to drive repeat purchase in addition to brand loyalty:

Collecting points: Toward rewards or discounts, such as stars for Starbucks App users and card users. Or sky miles by airlines. Or cash back programs on credit card purchases.

Collecting awards: Digital medallions for meeting exercise goals for iWatch users.

Collecting memorabilia: Pins at the Olympics, T-shirts at annual marathon or 10k races, or logo emblazoned water bottles or mugs. Brands such as Coca-Cola keep its historical legacy alive in this way.

Collecting wearable’s and paraphernalia: Emblazoned with the brand’s status logo or message.

Collecting posters: Often entertainers, bands, movies, stars, sports figures, travel destinations, etc.

Collecting packaging: Labels, cans, bottles, box tops, barcodes or even cartoon character dispensers such as with Good2Grow juices or the iconic Pez candies.

Collecting mementos or toys: From Cracker Jacks to McDonalds Happy Meals to plush toy mascots.

The list goes on and on.

In his book “Non-Obvious—How to Think Different, Curate Ideas & Predict the Future 2017” author Rohit Bhargava identified “Precious Print” as a “Non-Obvious Trend” brand marketers should consider in the realm of collecting. As Rohit observes, the “cult of paper” is surprisingly alive and well in the digital age, whether it’s the phenomenon of bookstores in Argentina, or with packaging and the fascination of “unboxing,” collectable brand experiences involving paper are, forgive the pun, “noteworthy.” To capitalize on this, he suggests making the brand experience collectable through print, like stamps in a passport; or VIP recognition through printed materials. Even producing a “company culture” book Zappos founder Tony Hseih is known for.

Brand relevance is anchored to resonance with the human experience. To be human is to organize, assemble, reminisce, curate and collect. As a brand marketer, are you taking advantage of these very natural inclinations to further the reach and create positive associations with your brand? In other words, are you keeping your brand human?

Ask yourself:

  • Is there some aspect of our brand story or history that could be leveraged to create collectable behavior?
  • How can we use “precious print” to make our most valued brand customers feel truly valued in the digital age?
  • What collectibles (rewards, awards, points etc.) can we create to trigger brand salience and attract brand loyal customers?
  • What can we do to craft a brand experience that is something to be savored, collected, curated and remembered?

The Blake Project Can Help: The Customer Experience Co-Creation Workshop

Branding Strategy Insider is a service of The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy specializing in Brand Research, Brand Strategy, Brand Licensing and Brand Education

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